Paul has been a Milwaukee Braves and Brewers fan for all of his life. He saw Matthews, Aaron, and Spahn play in the 1950s.
Major League Baseball in the 1950s
I started following MLB in 1953 when I was nine. The Boston Braves had just moved to Milwaukee, and Braves baseball cards were in every box of Johnson's Broken Cookies. I still remember marveling at the colored picture cards of such players as Andy Pafko and Sid Gordon. Later that year, my father took me to my first baseball game at Milwaukee County Stadium which had just been built. The Pittsburg Pirates were playing and we sat in the left-field bleachers. "Watch how Del Crandall holds his catcher's mitt," my dad said during the game. Dad had just bought me a catcher's mitt, mask, and shin guards because he wanted me to be a catcher.
During the remainder of the 50s, I followed the Braves religiously in the paper and on the radio by listening to Earl Gillespie's game broadcasts. Occasionally I caught a game on WGN TV when the Braves played the Chicago Cubs in Chicago. When my father didn't have time to take me to games, my uncle did. In 1954 we saw the Brooklyn Dodgers and sat in the right-field bleachers. "Get your glove ready, Paulie," my dad said as Snider stepped up to the plate. Sure enough, a few seconds later Duke hit a ball over the fence which landed two rows below my outstretched glove. The next year, 1955, my uncle took me to see the New York Giants and Cincinnati Reds play. I vividly remember the big swing and miss of Willie Mays going after a Warren Spahn screwball. At the Reds game, I couldn't believe the huge biceps of Ted Kluzewski who played first base.
The Braves finally surpassed the Dodgers and won two National League pennants in 1957 and 1958. They even beat the New York Yankees in the 1957 World Series. Although the Braves lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1959, the team had a highly successful decade not finishing less than third from 1953 through 1959.
Milwaukee Braves 1958 Spring Training
National League All-stars of the 1950s
From my impressions, I would include the following players on a 1950s National League all-star team:
First Baseman: Stan Musial
Stan "the man" played for the Saint Louis Cardinals. He is a 15-time all-star and a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Stan had a career batting average of .331 and was always a tough out for Braves pitchers. Ted Kluzewski and Gil Hodges were other top-notch first basemen.
Second Baseman: Al "Red" Schoendienst
"Red" played most of his career with the Cardinals and the Braves. He is a Hall-of-Famer and 10-time all-star with a .289 career batting average. Schoendienst played a vital part in helping the Braves win the pennant in 1957 and 1958. Jackie Robinson was another outstanding second baseman.
Shortstop: Ernie Banks
Ernie played with the Chicago Cubs and is a 14-time all-star and Hall-of-Famer. Whenever I watched the Cubs play the Braves at Wrigley Field, Cubs TV announcer Jack Brickhouse would shout "Come on Ernie.", and then go delirious after Banks hit a home run. Peewee Reese was another excellent shortstop who helped the Dodgers win so many pennants.
Third Baseman: Eddie Matthews
Eddie Matthews or "The Brookfield Bomber" is a 12-time all-star and a Hall-of-Famer. Eddie and Aaron were the feared 3 and 4 hitters in Milwaukee's lineup. Ken Boyer of the Cardinals was also an outstanding third baseman.
Right Fielder: Hank Aaron
"Hammerin" Hank Aaron played first for the Braves in Milwaukee and then later in Atlanta after the Braves moved there. Aaron had quick wrists and was a feared hitter batting behind Eddie Matthews. He was the first to break Babe Ruth's record with 755 career home runs. In his career, Hank was an all-star 25 times and is a Hall-of-Famer. He had a career batting average of .302. Roberto Clemente of the Pittsburg Pirates was also an excellent right fielder.
Center Fielder: Willie Mays
Willie Mays, the "Say Hey" kid, played for mostly the New York and later San Francisco Giants during his career. Willie was a very exciting player who could field, steal bases, and hit for power. Who will ever forget his catch of a drive off the bat of Vic Wertz in a 1954 World Series game? Willie had 660 home runs in his career and batted .302. He is a 24-time all-star and a Hall-of-Famer. Duke Snider of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers would probably get my vote as the number two all-star centerfielder.
Left Fielder: Ralph Kiner
Ralph Kiner played for the Pittsburgh Pirates during most of his career. He was feared as a home run hitter. In his career, he was a home run leader seven times and had a .279 batting average. Kiner is a Hall-of-Famer and a six-time all-star. Del Ennis of the Philadelphia Phillies would be my second choice as the best of the left-fielders.
Catcher: Roy Campanella
Roy Campanella or "Campy" of the Brooklyn Dodgers was a rising star until his baseball career ended in an auto accident in 1957. During his brief career, "Campy" was an 8-time all-star and also won 3 MVPs. he is a Hall-of-Famer with a .276 career batting average. Del Crandall of the Milwaukee Braves was also an excellent catcher during the 1950s.
Pitchers: Warren Spahn, Robin Roberts, Sandy Koufax, and Don Drysdale
Warren Spahn was the ace of the Braves and he won 363 games during his long career. Spahn is a 17-time all-star and a Hall-of-Famer with a career 3.09 ERA. Robin Roberts pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies during the 50s. Robin is a Hall-of-Famer and a 7-time all-star. He won 286 games during his career. Sandy Koufax began his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955 and pitched until 1966. This left-hander was intimidating with his blazing fastball and biting curve. Koufax finished his career with a 2.76 ERA and three Cy Young Awards. He is a Hall-of-Famer and a 7-time all-star. Don Drysdale paired with Koufax to give the Dodgers one of the best 1-2 starters in baseball. Drysdale started with the Dodgers in 1956 and finished his career in 1969. He also had a blazing fastball and finished three times as a strikeout leader. Drysdale is a Hall-of-Famer and a 9-time all-star. He finished his career with a 3.09 ERA and a Cy Young Award.
I know I have left out some players who you would have considered all-stars during the 1950s. Just the same, I will always remember my all-star list as the best of the players during the 50s.
50s National League Baseball All-stars
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2011 Paul Richard Kuehn
James Trentadue from Madison, WI. on November 13, 2014:
I love this game! I agree with the first comment about F. Robby. Although if it were me I would have chosen Jackie Robinson Also. He played both 1st base and RF (same as "the Man") I am white and noticed that this is when the great black players were coming into their own. The sixties spawned the best baseball in the history of the game in my opinion. The fifties helped the league(s) get settled with integration.
I wish our society would have integrated sooner without having to pass laws to do it.
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on July 12, 2013:
Thank you very much for reading and taking an interest in my old Milwaukee Braves. The Braves last year in Milwaukee was 1965 before moving to Atlanta. I remember seeing the L.A. Dodgers play in Milwaukee that summer and being able to get a great mezzanine seat behind home plate on the day of the game. Tickets weren't very much in demand during that last year. Thank you very much for voting up this hub, sharing it with your followers, and pinning it to My sports board!
C E Clark from North Texas on July 11, 2013:
A great tribute to these guys and I even know who some of them were! ;) Know a dear friend who says she got to go to one of the last games for the Milwaukee Braves in 1969. Does that sound right?
With baseball season well underway, this hub should be a great walk down memory lane for baseball lovers. I would think reading about these guys from someone who actually watched them play would be a bit special. I know I prefer to get information from people who have 'been there and done that,' figuratively speaking. I can read about things myself if it's just going to be somebody who read about it and is repeating what they read to me.
Voted up, interesting, and will share with my followers and pin on Your sports board. ;)
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on May 02, 2013:
Thank you very much for reading and commenting on this hub. Baseball during the 50s was really exciting for me as a kid, especially seeing Willie Mays take a big swing and miss one of Warren Spahn's screw balls. I appreciate your good words about this hub.
Raymond Bureau on May 02, 2013:
It's too bad I never got to see these guys play. Nicely done, Paul.
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on September 01, 2011:
Thanks for the comment, Dave, I agree that Snider was a really great player in the 50s. Maybe I chose Mays is because of his speed and defense in addition to his offense, I'll always remember his catch of Vic Wertz's long drive in the 1954 World Series.
dave poalillo on August 31, 2011:
mays was a great player in the 50s but duke snider had more home runs and more rbis than anyone who played in the 50s he also hit 11 world series home runs in the 50s while mays didn't hit any. snider also led in slugging percentage and was 2nd in slugging percentage + on base percentage. it isn't even close as to who was the best outfielder in the 50s.
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on May 01, 2011:
Thanks for the comment Brian. Yes, I definitely believe that Frank Robinson was a great player. I remember reading about a fight he had with Eddie Matthews when Eddie tagged him out sliding into third base in one game.
Brian Lokker from Bethesda, Maryland on May 01, 2011:
You've chosen some great players, many of which would be my choices too. I'm not sure I'd include Ralph Kiner, as great as he was, since his best years were mostly in the 40s and he retired, I think, after 1953. I'd probably go with Frank Robinson in left field, maybe followed by Wally Moon. Of course, there were some position changes too, especially between the corner outfield spots and 1st base (including Musial and Robinson), so that always makes it harder to put together lists like this.
chasemillis on April 18, 2011:
Good Hub, You did some quality research, keep up the great work!!